Mad Sin – ‘Unbreakable’

By Tom Walsh

For those unfamiliar with the stylings of Mad Sin, just imagine the slick licks of early Tiger Army, the boisterous vocals of Bad Manners, and the general chaos of Turbonegro. After a decade in the wilderness, Germany’s psychobilly/punkabilly royalty are back with 14th studio record ‘Unbreakable’.

From the opening bars of ‘Are You Ready?’, it’s a breathless assault of slapping double bass, vibrato guitars, crooning vocals, and as many genres you could possibly cram into 45 minutes. The beauty of Mad Sin is that you’re completely unprepared for what to expect from each song.

Take a track like ‘Moon Under Berlin’ – a radio-ready single that blends all the best parts of psychobilly and adds an almost pop-like layer – and then place it next to ‘Alles ist schlecht’, which sounds like a German folk song but with double-time drums. Meanwhile, ‘Memento Mori’ is a brooding classic rock ballad that morphs into a punkabilly romp that The Living End would’ve been proud of in late 1999.

As with any Mad Sin record, front man Köfte DeVille is a compelling narrator. He switches effortlessly between falsetto howls and plumbing the depths of his vibrato range, creating those almost horror punk sentiments that are displayed perfectly on ‘Hallucinate’. He’s as adept at playing the Misfits-esque monster as he is the surfer rock aficionado – see ‘All My Friends’.

If there is any criticism of ‘Unbreakable’ it’s that, at 16 songs, it’s on the long side for a record of this ilk. There is an unnecessary cover of Madness’ ‘House of Fun’, which doesn’t really add anything to the album as a whole, and feels like something that could’ve just been saved for the live show.

However, ‘Unbreakable’ remains a Mad Sin tour de force. It’s a weaving journey through their vast repertoire, a demonstration of why they continue to influence so many bands within their canon and, ultimately, it’s a very much welcome return for the kings of European psychobilly.  

TOM WALSH

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